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Resto Week: The Promo That Will Never Die

April 23, 2013

Somehow Downtown Albany’s latest Restaurant Week promotion totally snuck up on me. It apparently started last Saturday and runs through this Friday, April 26. Maybe it’s that this year I’ve been focusing on Dining Out For Life which just so happens to be this upcoming Thursday.

But it’s fairly unusual for something like this to surprise me. After all, I try to make a habit of monitoring most of the regional food blogs. Still, I was traveling this weekend (which included a delightful side trip to Flushing for soup dumplings and scallion pancake with Little Miss Fussy).

So how did I miss it? I went back and checked Table Hopping, and couldn’t find a post highlighting this semi-annual rite. I did see it obliquely mentioned in a separate post about the reopening of a downtown restaurant that many thought was out for the count.

Could it be that the local food cognoscenti are just done with the charade of Restaurant Week? Given all of the flack it receives, it wouldn’t be surprising. And everyone I know who cares about food has learned the hard way to avoid dining downtown while this terribly mismanaged marketing scheme is underway.

However, I’m a sucker for menus and I couldn’t resist taking a peek.

Needless to say, there is plenty of chicken parmesan. While it’s totally a ubiquitous dish in the region, I never order it out. Mostly because at most places it’s stupid expensive for chicken parmesan. Perhaps when you consider you’re being served three portions of chicken parm, its a great value. But since I don’t really want to eat my restaurant leftovers for the next two days, it usually feels like a waste of money.

A $20 three course meal that includes chicken parmesan is a pretty good deal. And frankly it’s probably one of the few things that would get me into Carmine’s, V&R, or Legends on Pearl.

Have I mentioned how I’ve been totally falling down on the job lately? Somehow I also missed the news of a place called The Hollow opening up in the Bayou Cafe on Pearl Street. Maybe I have a mental block about downtown.

Oh, I know why. That was the week Mrs. Fussy was traveling and I had a sick Little Miss Fussy on my hands. That week was not fun at all.

Regardless, The Hollow’s Restaurant Week menu reflects a kitchen that wants to show its stuff. I would start with their organic arugula salad with grilled mushrooms and opt out of the truffle oil. It would be hard to resist their grass-fed braised beef short ribs. But I’m also a sucker for chicken and waffles, especially when the chicken is free-range and the syrup is the real stuff from New York. But a good reason to skip the waffles is to have the bready part of your meal with dessert. Their brioche bread pudding with real maple and pecans sounds right up my alley.

Naturally, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. But this is one of the few menus that looks truly appealing.

I have to imagine there was some kind of typo on The Merry Monk’s menu. But I’d be curious to head down there just to check it out. As an appetizer they are offering five deep-fried duck drumsticks. I think they meant drumettes. Because following five fried duck legs with mussels, fries and then a liege waffle sounds like an impossible quantity of food.

But I’d love to be wrong. Duck legs are amazing.

Anyway, all of this is academic anyhow since this week is a mess. Despite it all, on Thursday night I’ll be at The City Beer Hall with All Over Albany helping to raise money for the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York. But I’m hoping that one of you might be inspired to get out there this week and do some recon.

Maybe a few good places are turning Restaurant Week around. Maybe it’s not completely doomed. And maybe the answer is going in with really minimal expectations.

Just don’t go to Cafe Capriccio this week. Seriously. Someone has to tell them to stop running the same crap menu for this promotion. I’m nominating DelSo to be the emissary of good will to the Rua family. Please. Nobody deserves to have that lousy meal be their first taste of this local institution.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeff permalink
    April 23, 2013 9:30 am

    You want the Merry Monk stout cake, not the waffles… I’m sort of biased though as my wife makes it… Worth a try!

  2. April 23, 2013 9:45 am

    Yikes. Poor planning on the part of the Downtown Albany BID to run Restaurant Week the same week as DOFL. C and I are very likely going to be at CBH with our niece on Thursday, so we may see you. If past-paced life at UAlbany gets in the way, we may do a late evening dinner at Mingle instead. :)

  3. April 23, 2013 8:07 pm

    Oook… Your restaurant week posts are even more tedious than your wine posts… Haha, I kid, I kid.

  4. April 23, 2013 10:04 pm

    Perhaps you’d be well served to regularly check my Capital Region food and drinks calendar at http://crlocalfood events.blogspot.com — I’ll stack it up against ANY other such calendar for depth of information and live links.

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